It was unknown how many people died as a result of Jack’s activities. The deaths of Capadocia in Panay, Nick Pamintyan in Manila, and a whole group of commanders who were undergoing training in a cadet school, probably none of these deaths could’ve been attributed to him. For the role he played in his wife’s death, Jack felt riddled with more guilt than he’d ever admitted. One thing was for sure though: counterrevolutionary work was messy.
Did Jack acquire and turn over to his handlers documents from the Secretariat? And did he give the names of his father-in-law’s frequent guests, as members of the Politburo came and went? Some of these members were already preparing themselves to become governors, mayors, councilors, and chiefs of police and so on. And did he do all he did without the Huks catching on? And when did Dr. Ramos start to realize that many of his guest and comrades were dramatically and unfortunately captured within a few weeks after visiting his home?
But there was more. Jack’s wife, so practical and smart, who through all of the conversations cordially sat next to her husband, would remember who said what, and always afterwards helped her spouse reconstruct it all. If she ever suspected Jack, she never let on. She knew her role. Whenever they had guests, she and her mother were expected to be gracious hostesses.
On the other hand, many of the guests promoted themselves and tried to impress and talk big and were obsessed with power, taking to heart the Chinese Communist maxim that said “the people are water and we are the fish.” Jack listened as they planned to simultaneously attack all the major installations in the city: the folly of that idea, thinking that they could catch everyone sleeping. Certainly, they were inspired by the victorious revolution of their comrades in China. They used quotations from Lenin and Stalin. To the Marxists sitting in Dr. Ramos’ living room, the revolutionary crisis had certainly arrived, but the big question was were they ready to lead? Had Dr. Ramos known of the duplicity of his son-in-law, probably he would’ve turned him over to the party’s discipline committee.
Unfortunately, instead of Jack, Dr. Ramos attracted the attention. His opponents began to realize that he was one of the few ideologues in Manila to have charted a mainstream course and survived. By having done so, he made enemies, who were suspicious, and many of them characterized him as a “villain with a smile.” And there were those who also worshipped guns.
The assassin team struck without warning. Tommy-guns and Sten-guns were fired at Anna even after she appeared dead. Her father remained conscious but was unable to speak. On the assumption that they would be mistaken for government solders, the assassins were dressed in green khaki. On the street, witnesses got the number plates of the get-away jeeps. These, it was true, belonged to the army but had been stolen. The police had already been looking for them.
A break in the case soon came. It was an important one, an essential lead that came out of the blue. From an unexpected source, it was also a break that the investigating team couldn’t have come up with on their own. Such breaks the police count on to solve most major crimes. But don’t belittle their efforts. Cases of this magnitude were often complex, and the people involved…. the police, the judges, the witnesses, and the accused….all become involved in high drama. And the press doing its job, printing the facts and publishing photographs, they but echoed the clamor of the public for answers. Then the public decided the guilt or innocence, based on the role of each assassin and accomplice, both on and off the record, the cumulative picture drawn from the evidence and corroborated by various witnesses.
That same day, after the dead were transferred to the morgue and the next-of-kin were notified, Jack found himself tormented with grief. No one knew what he was going through, how he was involved, or how he felt. Or the unfairness of the tragedy, or that he bore any blame for it.
To right the wrong, Jack had to find the killers himself and turned to Jo-Jo. Together, among antagonist, they represented a modest link between foes, a link that otherwise wouldn’t have existed. But given the circumstances, was it treason or heroism? If caught, either one of them could’ve anticipated death. As it was, they both struggled; but regardless of their differences, they would help each other. Friendship overrode other obligations. However framed or worded, it was paramount even to men who fought on opposite sides of the war. Each of them paid a terrible price, and even more so as events unfolded.
Around noon, on February 12, 1952, the murders occurred on Roxas Boulevard, near the Rizal Monument and not far from where Rizal died. Newspapers ran the story on the front page. “Murder Hold-Up” screamed one headline; and accordingly all of them, except the respectable Manila Times, published the presumption that the murders were the work of a gang of hoods. Fiction seemed real; facts were deliberately distorted. What the Philippine public hungered for was a mixture of exaggeration and fact. In keeping with this tradition, photographs of the bodies took precedent over the printed text; and the number of wounds (13) Anna received greater play than descriptions of the assailants. Government involvement would’ve been less sensational then, because of daily arrests and killings associated with the protracted rebellion.
Facts challenged the publicized version. None of them would ever forget that morning or the spray of bullets that shattered the windshield. No one would say whether or not guerrillas were suspected. All the witnesses, however, said all the killers wore bush hats. They remembered the hats but not the jungle green uniforms. A young Filipina lay dead in the front seat, not some whore, but a person of good repute. The gray-headed man behind the steering wheel was wounded, but all of his injuries weren’t apparent yet. This was wrong, all wrong, and not right; and it tied up traffic for a long while, as honking intensified and became almost unbearable. It was stop and go all the way down Roxas Boulevard, but that was nothing when compared with the violence hundreds of people saw that day.